Responding to Suspicions or Allegations

It is not the responsibility of anyone working for SportNE, in a paid or unpaid capacity, to take responsibility or to decide whether or not child abuse has taken place.

However there is a responsibility to act on any concerns through contact with the appropriate authorities.

SportNE will assure all staff/volunteers that it will fully support and protect anyone, who in good faith reports his or her concern that a colleague is, or may be, abusing a child.

Where there is a complaint against a member of staff advice will be sought about how to take appropriate action.

Action if there are concerns

Poor Practice

  • If, following consideration, the allegation is clearly about poor practice; SportNE Child Protection Officer will deal with it as a misconduct issue – SportNE Management.
  • If the allegation is about poor practice by SportNE Child Protection Officer, or if the matter has been handled inadequately and concerns remain, it should be reported to the relevant authorities who will decide how to deal with the allegation and whether or not to initiate disciplinary proceedings.

Suspected Abuse

  • Any suspicion that a child has been abused by either a member of staff or a volunteer should be reported to SportNE Child Protection Officer, who will take such steps as considered necessary to ensure the safety of the child in question and any other child who may be at risk.
  • SportNE Child Protection Officer will refer the allegation to the social services department who may involve the police, or go directly to the police if out-of-hours.
  • The parents or carers of the child will be contacted as soon as possible following advice from the social services department.
  • SportNE Child Protection Officer should also notify the relevant authorities who in turn will inform the Child Protection Officer who will deal with any media enquiries.
  • If SportNE Child Protection Officer is the subject of the suspicion/allegation, the report must be made to the appropriate Manager or in his/her absence the Child Protection Officer who will refer the allegation to Social Services.

Confidentiality

SportNE aims to ensure that confidentiality is maintained for all concerned.

Any information should be handled and disseminated on a need to know basis only. This includes the following people:

  • SportNE Child Protection Officer;
  • The parents of the person who is alleged to have been abused;
  • The person making the allegation;
  • Social services/police;
  • The alleged abuser (and parents if the alleged abuser is a child). *

*Seek social services advice on who should approach alleged abuser.

Information should be stored in a secure place with limited access to designated people, in line with data protection laws (e.g. that information is accurate, regularly updated, relevant and secure).

Bullying

Action if Bullying is Suspected

The same procedure should be followed as set out in the Section relating to responding to suspicions or allegations, if bullying is suspected. All settings in which children are provided with services or are living away from home should have rigorously enforced anti-bullying strategies in place.

Action to Help the Victim and Prevent Bullying in Sport:

  • Take all signs of bullying very seriously.
  • Encourage all children to speak and share their concerns. Help the victim to speak out and tell the person in charge or someone in authority. Create an open environment.
  • Investigate all allegations and take action to ensure the victim is safe. Speak with the victim and the bully(ies) separately.
  • Reassure the victim that you can be trusted and will help them, although you cannot promise to tell no one else.
  • Keep records of what is said (what happened, by whom, when).
  • Report any concerns to SportNE Child Protection Officer or the school (wherever the bullying is occurring).

Action Towards the Bully(ies):

  • Talk with the bully(ies), explain the situation, and try to get the bully(ies) to understand the consequences of their behaviour. Seek an apology to the victim(s).
  • Inform the bully’s parents.
  • Encourage and support the bully(ies) to change behaviour.
  • Inform all organisation members of action taken.
  • Keep a written record of action taken.

These are guidelines given by the NSPCC and should be followed in all cases.